Jun 04, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Remote-Viewing And Psychic Espionage: How Did It All Begin?

Most people who have an interest in the paranormal will know of Remote-Viewing. But, how many know the origins of the phenomenon? That's the theme of today's article. The earliest indication of serious interest on the part of the U.S. Government in the field of psychic phenomena can be found in a formerly classified CIA document written in 1977 by Dr. Kenneth A. Kress - then an engineer with the CIA’s Office of Technical Services - and titled Parapsychology in Intelligence.  According to Kress: “Anecdotal reports of extrasensory perception capabilities have reached U.S. national security agencies at least since World War II, when Hitler was said to rely on astrologers and seers. Suggestions for military applications of ESP continued to be received after World War II. In 1952, the Department of Defense was lectured on the possible usefulness of extrasensory perception in psychological warfare. “In 1961, the CIA’s Office of Technical Services became interested in the claims of ESP. Technical project officers soon contacted Stephen I. Abrams, the Director of the Parapsychological Laboratory, Oxford University, England. Under the auspices of Project ULTRA, Abrams prepared a review article which claimed ESP was demonstrated but not understood or controllable.”

Kress added: “The report was read with interest but produced no further action for another decade.” Indeed, it was in the early 1970s that the research began in earnest. In April 1972, Dr. Russell Targ, a laser physicist with a personal interest in parapsychology and the power of the human mind, met with CIA personnel from the Office of Strategic Intelligence, specifically to discuss paranormal phenomena. Of paramount concern to the CIA was the fact that Targ informed them that the Soviet Union was deeply involved in researching psychic phenomena, mental telepathy and ESP. It did not take the CIA long to realize that the purpose of the Soviet research was to determine if ESP could be used as a tool of espionage. As one CIA agent said: “Can you imagine if a bunch of psychic 007’s from Russia could focus their minds to short-circuit our missile systems or our satellite surveillance equipment and get access to classified information in this way? The possibilities – if it worked – would be disastrous.” It was this realization that galvanized the CIA into action. As the Kress report stated, in 1973: ‘The Office of Technical Services funded a $50,000 expanded effort in parapsychology.’

Note: This picture was created by the Central Intelligence Agency. As a result, it is in the public domain

The initial studies utilized a variety of people who were carefully and secretly brought into the project, and who demonstrated a whole range of seemingly paranormal skills. Those same skills could not be reliably replicated on every occasion, however. As evidence of this, Kenneth Kress informed his superiors that, “One subject, by mental effort, apparently caused an increase in temperature; the action could not be duplicated by the second subject. The second subject was able to reproduce, with impressive accuracy, information inside sealed envelopes. Under identical conditions, the first subject could reproduce nothing.” Similarly, some government-sponsored psychics in the period from 1973 to 1974 located secret missile installations in the Soviet Union, found terrorist groups in the Middle East, and successfully remote viewed the interior of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. Others, meanwhile, provided data that was sketchy and, at times, simply wrong. And it was the continuing rate of success versus the frequency of failure that led to heated debate within the CIA about the overall relevancy and validity of the project. Kenneth Kress confirmed this.

After the CIA’s remote viewing team attempted to broaden the range of its operation and secure extra funding in mid-1973, said Kress: “I was told not to increase the scope of the project and not to anticipate any follow-on in this area. The project was too sensitive and potentially embarrassing.” Despite this, the CIA’s research continued, with many of its advances due to a skilled psychic named Pat Price, who had achieved a number of extraordinary successes in the field of ESP, including successfully remotely viewing a sensitive installation that fell under the auspices of the National Security Agency and psychically penetrating missile sites in Libya. Price’s sudden and untimely death from a heart attack in 1975 indirectly led the CIA – according to the official story, at least - to minimize its research into psychic espionage. Tim Rifat, who has deeply studied the world of top secret, governmental research into psychic spying, says of Pat Price’s death: “It was alleged at the time that the Soviets poisoned Price. It would have been a top priority for the KGB to eliminate Price as his phenomenal remote-viewing abilities would have posed a significant danger to the USSR’s paranormal warfare buildup. He may also have been the victim of an elite group of Russian psi-warriors trained to remotely kill enemies of the Soviet Union”

The scenario of research being minimized in the aftermath of Price’s potentially suspicious passing was reinforced when, in 1995 a CIA-sponsored report, titled An Evaluation of the Remote-Viewing Program – Research and Operational Applications, was produced by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). In essence the report stated that from an espionage and intelligence-gathering perspective, remote viewing and related phenomena were largely useless. Not everyone agreed with that conclusion, however, including W. Adam Mandelbaum, author of The Psychic Battlefield and a former US intelligence officer, who said: “The AIR report was US-intelligence-purchased disinformation intentionally formatted to misrepresent the true states of remote-viewing research, and the true operational utility of the phenomenon.” Regardless of whether or not the CIA’s role in remote viewing operations was downsized, terminated, or simply hidden from prying eyes, it is a matter of fact that additional agencies within the US Government, military and Intelligence community took – and still continue to take – a deep interest in psychic espionage.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), for example, has had longstanding involvement and interest in understanding and using paranormal powers both on the battlefield and in the cloak and dagger world of espionage. As an illustration of this, a DIA report from 1972 titled Controlled Offensive Behavior – USSR, made an astonishing claim: “Before the end of the 1970s, Soviet diplomats will be able to sit in their foreign embassies and use ESP to steal the secrets of their enemies. A spy would be hypnotized, then his invisible ‘spirit’ would be ordered to leave his body, travel across barriers of space and time to a foreign government’s security facility, and there read top-secret documents and relay back their information. “The Soviets,” the report continued “are at least 25 years ahead of the U.S. in psychic research and have realized the immense military advantage of the psychic ability known as astral projection (out of the body travel).” Similarly, in 1973 and 1975, the DIA commissioned two lengthy reports that delved deep into the heart of Soviet research of psychic phenomena and included details of one extraordinary experiment undertaken by the Russian military in the 1950s.

(Nick Redfern)

 A somewhat disturbing extract from the DIA’s files on this particular experiment states: “Dr. Pavel Naumov conducted animal bio-communication studies between a submerged Soviet Navy submarine and a shore research station. These tests involved a mother rabbit and her newborn litter and occurred around 1956.” The author of the report continued: “According to Naumov, Soviet scientists placed the baby rabbits aboard the submarine. They kept the mother rabbit in a laboratory on shore where they implanted electrodes in her brain. When the submarine was submerged, assistants killed the rabbits one by one. At each precise moment of death, the mother rabbit’s brain produced detectable and record-able reactions.” It was also noted by the DIA that, “As late as 1970 the precise protocol and results of this test described were believed to be classified.” Nevertheless, the DIA was able to determine that the Soviets’ reasoning behind such experimentation was to try and understand the nature of ESP, astral projection, and the power of the mind – and even the existence of a soul - in animals such as dogs, rabbits and primates. And if eventually understood in the animal kingdom, said the DIA, the Soviets’ next step would be to focus on human beings and the way in which those same phenomena might be used as a weapon of war and espionage. And, when it comes to Remote-Viewing, that's how it all began

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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